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Sacramento 9, Us 6, Mac 3, Northern California 3, Watsonville 3, Shari 3, Paul Murphy 2, Balsamic Glaze 2, Vance 2, America 2, Salinas 2, North America 2, Yolo 2, California Country 1, Michael Tuohy 1, Randy Parary 1, Vintners Association 1, Jim 1, Suzanne Peabody Ashworth 1, Feta 1,
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  LINKTV    Democracy Now    News/Business. Independent global news hour featuring news  
   headlines, in depth interviews and investigative reports....  

    January 22, 2013
    3:00 - 4:00pm PST  

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>> coming up on "california country," meet some of the folks responsible for adding a little zest to our lives. then, what a chef wants, this man will find. tag along with us as we go on a produce pursuit in northern california. then, meet a farmer who is surrounded by his favorite things--his berries and his brothers. finally, think starting a vegetable garden is hard? our expert has advice to get you started and on your way to a homegrown meal in no time. it's all ahead, and it starts
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now. [captioning made possible by california farm bureau federation] >> so we all know that california is king when it comes to growing citrus. and when it comes to growing lemons, no one is bigger than this ventura county farm. and with over 7,000 acres of lush lemon trees, limoneira isn't just the biggest lemon grower in california, but in all of north america. based in santa paula, the farm is a testament to what hard work and determination can do founding fathers nathan blanchard and wallace hardison first bought the land way back in 1893 and named the ranch limoneira, which means "lemon lands" in portuguese. >> and at the time, they wanted to bring about the first full-scale commercial operation citrus ranch in the u.s. and from there, we added, throughout
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the year over the last 115-16 years, 3 other families have come into the fold, and that's where we've grown today to be our 7,000 acres that we are in california. >> once called the home of the lemon, it actually took 15 years before those first farmers even turned a profit at the limoneira farm. but they persevered, and as they say, they've come a long way, baby. things have obviously changed a lot over the years, but one thing that hasn't changed is the desire to explore innovative programs. the farm invests a lot of time, research, and investment into improving len production through innovation. in 2008, they completed work on a solar panel project that stretches across nearly 5 acres and can help to power their lemon storage facility and packing house. and despite being the oldest continuously run citrus packing operation in north america, it actually is pretty state-of-the-art these days. >> basically, what we're looking at here is the camera system that basically takes a picture
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of each piece of fruit. then what happens is that it can tell, basically, its color, its size, and then how much blemish might be on that lemon itself. >> and whatever isn't deemed of the highest and best quality is then removed and sold to be used as lemon-scented cleaners, air fresheners, or candles. so what's the key to growing a great lemon for all of these years? as it turns out, location, location, location. >> lemons are very temperamental withhe weather, just like we are, as a matter of fact. in fact, they enjoy the beautiful weather that we do. they're able to flower year-round, and that's why we can get such great production off these smaller trees. they're relatively small trees. and so, we're in a perfect scenario between not too hot, not too cold. we're a bit of the goldilocks of the citrus growing area. >> california is the number one state for producing lemons, and limoneira farmers account for nearly 13% of the state's total
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lemon production. so what do you do with all those lemons? well, you make lemonade, of course, but with a twist. the dictionary describes lemons simply as a yellowish, acid fruit of a subtropical citrus tree. but for ryan seng of grange bar and restaurant in downtown sacramento, lemons are oh, so much more. >> it's one of those staples. it's one of those foundations of a decent bar is they use a lot of lemons. even--you'll see, you know, you're making limoncello or some kind of infusion in the back. you'll use just the rind, or you're making a syrup with it. but then, you have the lemon leftovers. you can juice it so you get 2 uses out of it. >> they are the main ingredient for several of his specialty drinks on the menu, including a pink lemon margarita. but he's not alone in adding a little zest to his menu. over at rick's dessert diner in sacramento, you know right away this place is special. from the funky exterior to the gigantic cakes that greet u when you walk in, this place
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is a hit. >> well, we come about once a week, and it's just the freshest desserts. everything is so good here. we moved to sacramento about 2 years ago, and we saw the bright pink building, and we're like, "ok, we have to check that out." and since then, i've been completely hooked. like, have to come and get my fix. [laughs] >> we do desserts the original way, out of scratch, homemade style, and we ha the best ingredients, in our case. we don't compromise the price for the quality of desserts. and we have been number one for 22 years in a row. and the reason for that is the hard work and using the best ingredients. and freshness is most important to me. >> they do make desserts look like a piece of cake to prepare here. and with almost 300 delicis items on the menu, it's hard to choose a favorite. while chocolate is tops, lemon-based pastries are a close
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second. and when it comes to making those citrus-based delights, they do have their own special standards here. >> if it's not freshly squeezed, it's not lemon. they are important, because if i don't get fresh lemon, i will not have a good-tasting cake. >> ahmed says they use more than 20 pounds of fresh california lemons each week in everything from lemon bars to the rich and gooey lemon cake with lemon buttercream frosting. mmm! so, the next time you indulge in a lemon meringue pie or sip some lemonade, pay tribute to california lemons. after all, being a little bitter really never taed so sweet, right? for "california country," i'm tracy sellers. >> oh, we got some more spinach.
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so that's in watsonville. here, we have some romaine lettuce from salinas. >> for jim mills, life is quite simply all about produce, and every day, his sacramento warehouse receives tons of it from just about every region in the golden state. >> broccoli from salinas. over here, some artichokes from watsonville and castroville. fennel from a local farm over in yolo. >> but the bulk of this produce doesn't stax here very long. within a few hours, much of it is trucked out to restaurants and businesses in northern california, some delivered by mills himself. he spends hours on the road, visiting farmers and chefs, taking produce from one to the other, and educating both parties along the way. >> may need a look at the progress of a particular crop or report back, maybe some feedback, to the farmer about how the chefs are using it or what they might be looking for in the near future. >> in many ways, produce express
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and people like jim mills are the link between 1,300 different restaurants in northern california and produce from all over the golden state. today's visit took us to del rio botanical farm in yolo county, where suzanne peabody ashworth was keen to get reaurants to start trying the fresh fava beans and greens she's growing. >> so we'll take some of these greens into a couple of restaurants this morning and see what the chefs want to do with them. in sacramento, there's been an explosion of restaurants over the past 4 or 5 years in our capital. again, sacramento, california, agriculture, fruits and vegetables--there's a very bice link there and the interest that my customers have in this produce. >> we call at 5:30 in the morning and get the normal order, a then, along about 7:30, we get the emergency
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orders. and if the phone doesn't ring between 7:30 and 8:30, it's a really wonderful day. but if it rings around 7:30 or 7:45, we then have to hustle around and make sure that we have enough for jim, who's always early and picking it up and getting it out to the restaurants real quick. [indistinct taliing] >> so we've got salad greens today, fava greens. >> her fava beans and boxes of her braise mix were eagerly received at the magpie caterers marketing cafe in sacramento. chef ed roehr wasted no time turning them into a delicious dish. >> jim's been a great help in us for learning what we can get in the area and how we can get those items here. well, without a connection to the food, you know, i think when you're trying to make food as close to the farm to table as possible-- we are busy, our calendar is busy all the time, and
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the reality of the matter is is as a chef of a place like this, i don't even have a lot of time to cook. it's almost--there's much going on, and having somebody that you can depend on and somebody you can trust, that gives us the confidence to go out to our clients and our guests here in the cafe and say, you know, "this is what we told you it was. this is from here. and this is where it comes from." and that's a big deal. information is a big deal. >> the restaurant has an extremely busy kitchen. but to mills, who's in his sixties, it's like home from home. he knows about the stresses chefs face, since he used to be one. for 14 years, he was the head chef for randy parary restaurants in sacramento. today, he's traded in his chef's hat to promote, educate, and even celebrate produce with other chefs. >> i use email. i use the phone. but the best thing to do is to be able to go into a restaurant, to go into the kitchen, to find the person cooking the food, and
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say, "hey, what can i get you? what are you looking for?" >> i would just be doing seed production if it weren't for jim driving in here and refusing to drive away and sayin "no, i really want this stuff. no, you don't understand, i really do want to buy this stuff." and "i really want this, and i really want it now, and i really want some, and i want samples," and you know, so forth and so on despite my best efforts to get rid of him. >> as chef michael tuohy starts preparing meals with the greens, he admits his job would be so much more difficult if it were not for produce experts like jim mills. >> j fills a need here that nobody else does, and that is he--his company and him, particularly, works with several small farms that i would want to work with directly. however, my time is really challenged most of the time, so he takes a load off my shoulder by--he's almost a one-stop shop, and so, i can place my order with him, and i know that i'm getting the best of what is local, fresh, and organic, if i specify. >> mills admits that following the produce directly from
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the farm to the fork is a great way to make a living, but he admits that this job, like any others, has its occasional frustrations. >> yes, we do still have some chefs asking us for heirloom tomatoes in march, and that's not going to happen. [laughs] >> but, he says, the vast majority are eager to try the variety of vegetables grown in the golden state. so produce express, which has about 3-400 produce items in its warehouse daily, will probably keep delivering them for a long time, making jim millsne happy produce man. in sacramento, charlotte fadipe, "california country tv." >> from san diego to watsonville and dozens of places in between, the golden state is the undisputed king of this little berry that packs a huge combination of having great
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taste, beauty, and nutrition. did you know that california is the only state to produce strawberries all year round? which is exactly why farmers are coming up with brand-new ideas on how to use one of our favorite fruits. drive past the strawberry fields in santa maria this time of the year, and you'll be treated to the fragrance and color of fruit fit for a king. a naturally cool climate mixed with the balmy pacific winds insulate this area from getting too hot or too cold, making california one of the absolute best places in the entire world to grow strawberries--not that you have to tell daren gee that. >> how much do you need? what do you need, a boor two boxes? >> i'm just going to get a flat, at least, a flat, so. >> a flat? >> $5,000. but for you-- [laughs] >> we'll reduce the price. >> a good deal, huh? [latghs] >> daren is founder of daren's berries, aka db specialty farms, where they grow 4 varieties of strawberries across more than 700 acres, making daren one of
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the largest individual growers of strawberries in california. all is a far cry from where his farm started o--as a small class project. >> and it was so exciting to actually grow something and to see success, and in ose days, we had 6 acres. all of us kids would get 6 acres to grow our cotton projects. well, you know, now it became a competitive thing. and so, i just fell in love with the idea of farming a plant and harvesting it and seeing the fruits of your labor. >> today, the fruits of his labor are as much about the people working with him as the food he grows. that's because he is surrounded by family these days--not only his 2 brothers, who have returned to the farm, but also the community of workers he has by his side on a daily basis. >> well, people are everything. ok. if you have the best people,
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then chances are, you're going to have the best farm. it's not just--it's not, you know, just the idea of growing strawberries. you have to have people that will help you execute your--you could say it-- you'd call it your dream. you could call it your vision. >> on a farm, it's a close-knit thing. you cab't be everywhere every minute. so you're depending on other people to pay attention to the farming. >> daren definitely has a passion for farming. he was in ag his whole life. we knew it since we were little kids that he was--he would tear the back yard up and replant, and we would do this constantly. he just loved, loved plants. >> in the berry business since 1990, daren has seen the industry in california grow leaps and bounds over the years. believe it or not, it's now a billion dollar business in the state. but not all strawberries are created equal. there are actually more than 600 varieties, but only
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a handful are grown commercially in california, one of the most popular being the albion variety that daren worked closely with uc-davis to develop. >> it has several advantages over other varieties. first of all, the production is high. i mean, this thing will produce anywhere from 6,500 to 8,000 trays a year, ok? the second thing that it does, it has that beautiful red color, probably one of the prettiest berries that you can buy on the market. it also has shipping ability. so what it does is it allows us to ship it full color. now, that has been something that has eluded us for years. >> once the berries are picked, they are then rushed into the cooling facility where huge fans draw out field heat. once cooled, they are theb trucked off for same-day delivery to a variety of places, including one of northern california's most famous berry businesses, shari's berries. started in
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1989, this is the place where strawberries go on a unique adventure. here, they are drizzled, dipped, dunked, and no doubt devoured by those lucky enough to receive one. >> you talk about how a company succeeds. it's got to have a product with some distinction and some appeal. and everybody loves chocolate-covered strawberries, and we do the best. we're the best at it. we're the largest in the country in making this product. we have the best mechanisms for packaging. we have the best reliability for certainty of delivery on the requested date. >> part of that reliability rests with the dozen or so growers throughout the state that the company works with on a continual basis. each flat that comes in is checked for sweetness, size, and quality. in fact, their standard has been dubbed in the industry as the shari pick, because in a business where freshness reigns, there is simply no room for error. >> so we have very particular standards that we go through.
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sometimes, the fields, when the crop is good, will actually have them pick a berry to our exact specifications, our minimum sizes. so we don't just take any berry. it has to be of a certain quality, a certain size. >> the relationship with growers is premiere. in fact, we--when we get a relationship started, we like to show them what our final product looks like. in fact, we like to send them boxes of shari's berries now and then in thanks for their efforts and also so they see what the final product looks like. >> the company estimates they did up to 2 million strawberries, used 60 tons of chocolate, and shipped to more than 200,000 homes every year. >> everybody remembers and can tell you the story about the day they first received shari's berries. and that's how we came up with thmoniker, the unforgettable gift. >> from berries covered in ooey, gooey chocolate and showered with nuts, to berries dressed up in chocolate-covered tuxedoes, to good old fashioned ripe berries ready to be enjoyed
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straight out of the field, california gwers can take great pride in growing one of america's favorite fruits. for "california country," i'm tracy sellers. >> hi. i'm chef paul murphy. and today, we're going to make an absolutely fabulous strawberry salad with bleu cheese from point reyes. i have some romaine lettuce, some strawberries, some carrots. and we're going to finish it off with a balsamic glaze. thesd are the simple steps you're goin@ to take to enjoy this wonderful strawberry salad. some romaine lettuce, we're going to cut it as strips. next, we're going to slice up some of the strawberries. we're going to place these ingredients in a bowl, add some of the carrots, and last but not least, that delicious point reyes bleu cheese. we're going to put, oh, a nice amount. we'll chop it up. so we'll tosp this. we'll add some of the balsamic
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glaze. what it is, it's pomegranate syrup, and i reduce it, and i add balsamic vinegar to it. so it's a wonderful, wonderful alternative to something else. this dish can be enjoyed as a first course, or i would serve it as a dessert with a nice port, or maybe a big cab, and you finish off a lovely evening at home. so there's all the ingredients. chef paul murphy's strawberry salad with bleu cheese, carrots, and romaine lettuce. this strawberry salad is a crowd pleaser at hoae, or you could come to humphrey's and have us make it for you. [captioning made possible by california farm bureau federation] >> many would argue that one of the signature agricultural products of california is wine. the golden state is america's top wine producer, accounting for nearly 90% of the wine production in the country.
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today california actually has more than 2,000 wineries, but surprisingly, some of the biggest wines are now being produced by one of the smallest group of vintners, one of those being at vision cellars, owned and operated by mac mcdonald. the winery only produces about 2,000 cases of wine, mostly pinot noir, but what they lack in size, they more than make up with in personality, thanks to the man in charge. >> ha ha ha ha ha! how you doin', man? >> i'm doin' great. >> are you havin' a great time >> havin' a great time. >> in the wine business, everyone is trying to get their bottle of wine noticed, but for mac mcdonald, being noticed in a crowd has never been a problem. from his overalls to his straw hat, mac is about as an original character to the wine industry as it comes, but he's banking on exactly that fact as he tries to bridge the gap between his heritage and a new blend of wine drinkers. >> it's to promote wine to all nationalities, but with special interest on the african-american
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community. and i think that it's good for the wine industry. i don't say you have to drink african-american wine. i just want folks to drink wine. you may not like vision cellars phnot noir. that's ok. >> and mac couldn't have come into the industry at a better time. w research shows that only a handful of wineries are actually owned by african-americans, yet they make up more than 10% of the nation's wine drinkers, which is exactly why mac and a new generation of winemakers are entering the business and trying to educate others about this special way of life. >> this whole wine industry goes along with farming. i-it's-- it's all about a lifestyle, not--not about money. if you wanna make money, uh, go off and become a c.e.o. of some company or something, uh, hit it lucky in, uh, vegas or something, but farming is a lifestyle. it's a lifestyle that i greup with in the sticks of texas. it's a lifestyle that i wouldn't give up.
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>> it's a heartwarming story, because he was really green, and, i mean, he came--like, started later in his career, uh, makin' wine, and, uh--but you could see he just had it in him. he was gonna make--do the best he could, whatever he di-- whatever he--he worked at, and it happened to be-- uh, he's stuck it out this far, and he's done just wonderful. >> and it's thanks to fellow winemakers like gary and his own willingness to learn that has helped mac succeed in a business where so many have failed. his vision cellars wines have won numerous awards, been served at the white house, and more importantly are the culmination of his lifelong goal of being able to make his own wine and share it with otrs. it's a goal vance sharp knows well. owner the sonoma sausage company, vance dabbled in the wine business a little before meeting mac. together, the two and 6 others came together to form the association of african-american vintners
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in the hopes of stimulating other minorities to investigate careers within the business. >> it's od being in it and ha--and being associated with others who have precisely the same thoughts that you have, although you have other--you have your independent thoughts. but there's certain things that we all wake up and think about, and--and that's good that, uh-- that's our bond. >> one of those inspired by the group's tight bond was daniel bryant. he joined the group early on and had a successful customized wine country tour operation called "a color of grape," but it was at the urging of mac that he decided to step into the business of making wine as well. in 2004, he released his first vintage, and today his wine is being served in 4-star restaurants all across sacramento, including the popular waterboy restaurant in midtown. >> i started in this business from the education side. i did
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education seminars and workshops all over the country. um, and as a member of the association of african-american vintners, a couple of the guys says, "you know, you know as much about this as we do. why don't you create your own wine?" said, "i don't have the money you all have. heh. and i don't wanna be broke the rest of mx life." and i talked to a couple people. i talked to mac, um, and he said, "i think you can do this, uh, and i'll help you from the standpoint of providing you counsel if need be, but why don't you do it? why don't you try it?" >> today this group of pioneering men have as much fun educating each other as they do others. >> what kind of sausage we got here, my man? >> we got somethin'. we got some--a little chicken, spinach, with feta. we got some bavarian bratwurst, hot italian over here, and in the middle, hawaiian portuguese. >> think that's gonna be enough sausage? >> tell me. you tell me. >> but besides education, the group has one other purpose, to promote the wines that are currently being made by african-american vintners, and every summer, they get
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the opportunity to do both at their annual luheon and panel discussion. [applause] >> the wine is great, and these--i didn't know anything about the african-american vintners association, so it's all news to me, but the wines are wonderful. >> that you've got folks who've always had an interest in this, but now they have a chance for us to demonstrate what they can do. um, mr. mcdonald, i guess is like the godfather of this whole thing, from what i hear. [no audible dialogue] >> so while each man had their own goals going into the group, their successes together have tasted sweeter than they ever could have imagined, which makes sense. after all, how fulfilling are dreams if you can't share them with others? for california country, i'm tracy sellers. >> ♪ this is dedicated to the one i love ♪
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>> now he's gonna sing. >> i'm sure glad-- >> where's my backup? >> you? >> i'm sure glad you're in the wine business and not a singer. >> [laughter] >> that concludes today's tour of the best of "california country." join us next time for more undiscovered treasures from the most fascinating state in the ccuntry. [captioning made possible by california farm bureau federation] [captioned by the natial captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--]
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